David Wilson has been one of most popular artists for years, his black and white images capture the Welsh landscape in it's most intimate moments. His work has inspired poets and writers and recently an entire book, whilst his photographs grace the pages of books, and walls across the country.
We caught up with the man himself for a chat about how he still feels about Wales after all these years.
Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?
My name is David Wilson and I am a fine art photographer specialising in black and white images of the Welsh landscape, in particular my home county of Pembrokeshire.
How often do you visit a place or subject before you photograph it?
It’s mostly dependent on the weather conditions. If fortune is smiling down on me the elements will be perfect first visit. Quite often though I can see the composition in my mind’s eye but the sky just doesn’t work. I try to avoid clear blue skies wherever possible as they’re featureless and pretty boring. So I’ll simply return when the weather is more appropriate.
Your photography recently inspired a book comprising several short crime stories, how did you find handing over the interpretation of your photographs to others?
I was very flattered that a group of eminent writers should want to use my images as the catalyst for a book of short stories. Some photographers may have found it unnerving that a group of writers should see such dark and murderous intent in their images that it would inspire a collection of crime stories; I actually saw it as an endorsement of what I do! My images are meant to be dark and brooding, causing the viewer to contemplate a narrative that may be quite bleak! I think darker images with extremes of contrast are more emotive and evocative.
You’re known for your black and white photography, but more recent pieces have been in colour- which do you prefer?
I prefer to work in black and white but occasionally I take a photograph that works better in colour; not very often though!
Where in Pembrokeshire is your favourite place to photograph, or where has the most interesting light?
I have two areas of Pembrokeshire that provide endless inspiration; the Preseli hills and the coastal strip and hinterland between Fishguard and St Davids. I’m drawn to the rugged nature of the landscape and the stories in the buildings; if only those stones could speak.
Do you have a favourite piece from your own collections?
I have a number of images that I am particularly proud of. The photographs tend to have buildings in them. ‘Treleddyd Fawr’ cottage near St Davids, on the cover of my first book ‘Pembrokeshire’, still has the power to move me even after eight years. The same goes for ‘The Abandoned Farm’ in the Preseli Hills. Then love him or loath him there’s ‘The Bull’, a portrait with a difference
What artists do you admire locally and nationally?
If there is one artist whose work I admire more than any other it is the late John Knapp-Fisher. I love the harsh abstractions and bare outlines that characterised his work. He understood what the Pembrokeshire landscape is all about; occasional bright sunny days but more often than not, challenging days when the weather is heavy and less than helpful but conditions that add so much to any painting or indeed photograph.
What do you want people who own your work to feel when they look at a photograph of yours?
When people look at my work I want them to immerse themselves in the image and ask questions. I photograph a lot of buildings in the landscape as buildings tell stories about people; their lives, families, hopes and aspirations. So I want people to put their own interpretation on the image and create their own unique narrative.
What was your first camera?
My first camera was a 35mm Ricoh. Don’t ask me the model; it was over thirty years ago and ended up in a swimming pool while on holiday with my mates!
A lot of photographers are asked to lend their photographs for free, to magazines or websites, which would be virtually unheard of with a piece of fine art- how do you feel about this?
If people want to give the rights to their work away for free that’s their choice. I would say value your efforts and demand payment!
Have you ever had a complete photographic disaster?
Thankfully I have never had a complete photographic disaster. I appreciate that’s probably not the answer people would like to hear but there we have it. Of course, now the question’s been asked, I will undoubtedly have one very soon…..eeek!
Thanks David!- Lets hope you can keep that disaster at bay for a little longer!
Love, The Gallery